Center for American Progress

PRESS RELEASE: Assimilation Today – New Evidence on the Advancement of Immigrants in Georgia’s Culture and Economy
Press Release

PRESS RELEASE: Assimilation Today – New Evidence on the Advancement of Immigrants in Georgia’s Culture and Economy

Read the report here.

Read the Fast Facts here. (pdf)

Listen to today’s press call here. (mp3)

Washington, D.C.—Immigrants in Georgia have proven much more successful at assimilating into the state’s economy and culture than many assume, with homeownership rates exceeding the national average, regardless of when they came to the United States, according to a report released today by the Center for American Progress.

Moreover, after 18 years of U.S. residence, at least four-fifths of immigrants in Georgia speak only English or speak English well or very well and three-fifths of them are citizens, above the national average. Latino immigrants in this state also have English proficiency and homeownership rates that far exceed the national average for Latino foreign born.

As in Georgia, immigrants across the United States are assimilating at high rates, most notably in the areas of homeownership and citizenship in the first 18 years of residency, and show high rates of advancement the longer they live here, according to new research based on U.S. Census Bureau data through 2008.

The findings are contained in the report, “Assimilation Today: New Evidence Shows the Latest Immigrants to America Are Following in Our History’s Footsteps,” by Dowell Myers and John Pitkin of the University of Southern California’s Population Dynamics Research Group. The basic research was supported by a grant from the MacArthur Foundation to the USC team.

Among the key findings in Georgia:

  • Immigrants make up 9 percent of Georgia’s population, below the national average of 12.5 percent.
  • Georgia’s immigrants have homeownership rates higher than the national average for immigrants, whether they are newcomers who arrived after 2000 or moved here before 1990.
  • Immigrants who arrived between 18 and 27 years ago far exceed the national averages for English proficiency, citizenship, and homeownership. Of those who arrived in the 1990s, 67.4 percent have English language skills, also above the national average for that group.
  • Among Georgia’s Latino immigrants who have lived in the United States for at least 18 years, about two-thirds speak only English or speak English well and are homeowners at rates higher than average for Latinos across the United States who arrived during the same time frame.

Nationally, assimilation by all foreign born can be seen in the rising rates of earnings and high school completions. Children of Latino immigrants are more likely than their parents to have B.A. degrees, higher-paying occupations, be living in households above the poverty line, and own homes.

The study refutes claims from immigration opponents who question immigrants’ contributions to U.S. society and economy, and shows robust integration by newcomers since 1990, regardless of their social or economic starting points.

“These findings affirm America’s history. Immigrants are not static in their assimilation. Despite claims to the contrary, history is repeating itself and today’s newcomers are becoming tomorrow’s new Americans,” said Angela M. Kelley, Vice President for Immigration Policy and Advocacy at the Center for American Progress.

Many Americans believe immigrants are, like Peter Pan, forever frozen and never advance economically or socially, but “the data on immigrant advancement may be surprising and should help dispel the illogical Peter Pan fallacy,” write the authors.

The report uses key benchmarks such as naturalization to citizenship, homeownership, and earnings to measure assimilation. The assimilation rates can be found here.